Cards look to topple Rovers
9:50am, Thu 15th Jan 2015
Woking v Bristol Rovers
3pm on Saturday 17 January 2015
A big crowd is expected at Kingfield on Saturday for the visit of second-placed Bristol Rovers, who are making a strong bid for an immediate return to the Football League and who are sure to bring a huge following with them. Garry Hill’s side, for their part, will see this as a great opportunity to send a clear signal that they are determined to stay the course in the play-off race. It should be a terrific match, so make sure you are there!
Woking eventually overcame Oxford City on Tuesday night in their FA Trophy Second Round Replay but, as Garry Hill made abundantly clear in his post-match interview on WFC TV, he wasn’t impressed once again with the Cards’ performance and has said that he’s intent on bringing fresh faces to Kingfield, perhaps even before Saturday’s game. A couple of bright spots were John Goddard’s ‘man of the match’ performance, including his magnificent winning strike, and another lively display from Kevin Betsy, who seems to be returning to something approaching his form of the last couple of seasons after his long lay-off earlier in the campaign.
Mark Ricketts was again on the bench on Tuesday night but did not make an appearance, whilst Scott Rendell was still absent. Woking fans will be hoping that Scott has sufficiently recovered to at least make the 16 on Saturday.
Woking now sit in 7th place in the table, two points behind Eastleigh in fifth spot but having played one or two more games than most of the clubs around them. As Garry Hill has pointed out, though, some of these games in hand will involve the top clubs taking points off each other, with this weekend being the perfect illustration: the top eight sides are all playing each other. It may be a very tall order but the Cards could really do with a win if they are not to lose further ground, especially given that they will be in action again in the Trophy next weekend.
Rovers were relegated from the Football League at the end of last season: the first time they have experienced life outside the Football League. The side plays at the Memorial Stadium in the suburb of Horfield, sharing the ground with Bristol Rugby Club. They are known as the Gas from the old gasworks that was next to their former ground at Eastville, although their traditional nickname was the Pirates.
Gasheads experienced a rude introduction to life in the Vanarama Conference as they saw their side draw at home to Grimsby on the opening day and then lose successively to Barnet away and, much more worryingly, to Altrincham at home. But things have improved subsequently and Rovers now sit in second place in the table, having cut Barnet’s lead to six points. They have lost only once in their last 13 outings: a surprise 2-0 home defeat to Bath City in the Trophy. In subsequent games they’ve won and drawn against Torquay United and defeated Macclesfield Town, Gateshead and (most recently) Nuneaton Town. Rovers should be well rested, having not played since Sunday 4 January.
Manager Darrell Clarke was formerly manager of Salisbury City and became Rovers’ manager in March 2014, with eight games of last season remaining, having been assistant manager to John Ward. Among Clarke’s summer signings were Daniel Leadbitter, a right back from Hereford United; midfielder Lee Mansell, captain of Torquay United; Matty Taylor, striker, from Forest Green Rovers; influential midfielder warrior Stuart Sinclair, signed from Salisbury City; and Colombian Angelo Balanta.
The gulf in financial means between the two clubs is illustrated by the fact that Rovers have been able to boost their striking options with the signings of Nathan Blissett from Kidderminster Harriers and Jermaine Easter on his release from Millwall. Another arrival, on loan, is Leicester City midfielder Adam Dawson, who recently shone on loan at Nuneaton Town.
Over 65s and Students with a valid NUS card: £10
The game will be segregated. Rovers fans should note that the terrace for away fans is uncovered but that some seating will be allocated to them in the covered main stand.
The Club’s stylish matchday programme is expected to sell out quickly, so make sure you get your copy straightaway. The programme is still only £3 but now has 64 pages, with a soft laminate cover, high quality ‘finish’ and stunning photos. Saturday’s edition includes an appreciation of the fourth anniversary of Garry Hill’s and Steve Thompson’s arrival in the managerial ‘hot seats’ at Kingfield; a view from a Gashead on life in the Conference; Mark Ricketts’ thoughts on recent performances; a welcome to Sponsor’s Lounge special guest, ex-Saint Francis Benali; and much more, including match reports, previews and news of the Club’s commercial initiatives. If you can’t get to the game, you can pre-order a copy from the Club Shop on email@example.com
If you can’t get to the game BBC Radio Surrey will be providing an online commentary at:
LAST TIME OUT
Bristol Rovers 2 Woking 0
20 September 2014
The Cards suffered their second successive defeat on the road at the hands of a resurgent Bristol Rovers side at a lively Memorial Stadium. Garry Hill’s side got off to the worst possible start, conceding in the third minute as Adam Cunnington volleyed home. They more than held their own in the remainder of the first half, causing some anxiety to Rovers fans, who wanted to see their side build on their early lead. But the Cards found it hard to keep their passing game going in the second half and Rovers wrapped the game up in the 86th minute with a fine Lee Mansell strike from a free-kick.
Woking: Ross Worner, Adam Newton (Nick Arnold 64), Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Chris Arthur, Giuseppe Sole (Reece Beckles 82), John Goddard(Keiran Murtagh 74), Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Dean Morgan, Scott Rendell
Unused subs: Andy Little, Theo Lewis
Booked: Cestor, Jones, Murtagh, Arthur, Payne
Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Daniel Leadbitter, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer, Tom Parkes, Lee Mansell, Matty Taylor (Jamie White 93), Jake Gosling (Ollie Clarke 46), Dave Martin, Stuart Sinclair, Adam Cunnington (Ellis Harrison 61)
Unused subs: Will Puddy, Mark McChrystal
Attendance: 6028 (276 Woking fans)
The Cards are at home next Saturday (24 January) to in-form Dover Athletic in the Third Round of the FA Trophy. (The scheduled away match at Dartford will be re-arranged.) The Cards’ next league game is at home against Alfreton Town on Saturday 31 January.
Come on, you Cards!